Trees Planted Honour All Canadians Who Served in Armed Forces
TORONTO, Nov. 3, 2022 /CNW/ - Yesterday, at a special event held at Fort York National Historic Site in Toronto, the Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign (HoHTC) announced it reached and surpassed its goal to plant over 2 million trees to honour every Canadian who served in the country's Armed Forces and the 117,000 who paid the ultimate sacrifice. The campaign began in 2015, and is the world's largest living tribute with nearly 2.5 million trees planted in total at over 825 planting locations across Ontario.
"Until recently I could not allow myself to imagine that this day would come, that we would plant the last tree as part of the Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign," said Mark Cullen, Chair/President & Co-Founder Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign & Trees for Life. "Now, the highway corridor is reforested with a tree for every hero lost at war while volunteering for military service and for all those that have served. We have completed a marathon of a tree planting campaign. Millions of trees, millions of dollars, over 8 years in the making."
The event at Fort York included the ceremonial planting of the last tree of the campaign by special guest, The Right Honourable David Johnston. Other attendees included Minister of Labour, Seamus O'Regan; Rob Keen, CEO of Forests Ontario; Silver Cross Mother, Carol Collier; and Highway of Heroes partners and supporters. The event was capped off by an acoustic performance from Colin MacDonald & John-Angus MacDonald (of The Trews), who performed their acclaimed song, "Highway of Heroes."
"We support the efforts of the Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign and Trees for Life to unite the shared passions and values of people and organizations from coast to coast, who are dedicated to tree planting, to make Canada a better and a more equitable country now and for future generations," said the Right Honourable David Johnston, former Governor General of Canada.
One of the fallen heroes honoured by the HoHTC includes Sapper Brian Collier. Brian was killed by an IED in Afghanistan in 2010 while serving his country. His mom, Silver Cross Mother Carol Collier, spoke at the event and said: "This living tribute is a perfect Canadian hug. These trees will embrace our Highway of Heroes, forever. Our Canadian flag has a Maple Leaf as our symbol. Our trees protect our Land, our lakes, our rivers, our mountains. All of the beautiful images and parts of Canada our soldiers have when they are serving our country. We owe this to them, to their families, to protect their memories, and to our future."
The HoHTC plantings were done in partnership with many municipalities, sponsors, donors and landowners across the province, and over 4,000 volunteers helped plant trees. As of this month, in addition to the 117,000 trees planted along and near the highway in honour of all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, there are over 2.3 million "service trees" planted as a result of support from the HoHTC within 30km of the Highway 401 corridor in honour of all those that have served since Confederation and including the War of 1812. The vast majority of these were planted in partnership with Forests Ontario's 50 Million Tree Program, which gave private landowners the chance to own their own small piece of this sprawling living tribute.
"Forests Ontario has been proud to partner with the Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign to create a living tribute to Canadian veterans and their families. Thanks to our many planting partners, and to the landowners who participated in this important program, Forests Ontario planted more than two million trees on 700 sites along Highway 401 over the past three years," says Rob Keen, CEO of Forests Ontario, and Registered Professional Forester. "We are honoured to have played such a significant role in helping the Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign surpass its goal."
The trees are not only a way to honour heroes, they also leave a lasting legacy in communities across Ontario. The HoHTC trees will clean particulates from the air and naturally filter water, including over 900,000 tonnes of carbon sequestered over the next 50 years, and produce the same amount of oxygen that 8 million people breathe in one day once fully mature. Trees planted the closest to the highway will also act as natural wind and snow breaks and help to absorb stormwater and slow erosion, effectively making the highway a safer place for vehicles to travel for decades to come.
The Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign is run by Trees For Life, a national charity committed to inspiring, supporting and mobilizing, community-led tree-planting initiatives across Canada. Though the HoHTC has reached its goal, Trees for Life is dedicated to continuing its work to create greener, healthier, and happier Canadian communities. Trees for life will continue to honour heroes through its Trees for Heroes program.
Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign Highlights:
Key Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign Public Planting Sites:
About Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign:
When is a tree more than just a tree? The answer is when the tree is part of a memorial to honour Canada's fallen heroes. We have planted over 2 million trees for all Canadians that have served during times of conflict since Confederation and including the War of 1812. 117,000 of the most prominent trees were planted along and near the stretch of the 401 known as the Highway of Heroes: one tree for every life lost while serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. This tribute provides a myriad of environmental benefits and offers an opportunity to tell the story of those who have served in the Armed Forces, reminding future generations of the great debt we owe these courageous Canadians.
The Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign is funded by Veterans Affairs Canada, the Government of Ontario, Cullen's Foods, Landscape Ontario, Forests Ontario, Ontario Trillium Foundation, TD Bank, the City of Toronto, Intact Public Entities, the City of Quinte West, Harrington & Associates, Rotary District 7070, Maple Leaves Forever, and the Garden Club of Toronto. To learn more, visit www.hohtribute.ca and follow HoHTC on social media: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
About Trees for Life:
Trees for Life is a Canadian charity driven to inspire, support, and mobilize community-led tree and shrub-planting initiatives. Its mission is to create a healthier, happier Canada by planting native trees where people live, work, and play. They support these organizations with partner outreach and advocacy; funding and fundraising tools; and access to expertise, resources, and education.
Their first projects, the Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign and GrandTrees Climate Solutions, raised over $12 million to support the planting and stewardship of over 2.5 million trees in Ontario. Inspired by this donor and partner commitment, Trees for Life is using its insights and partner networks to extend its vision and impact nationwide. Launched with the support of the Government of Canada through Natural Resources Canada's 2 Billion Trees Program, the strength of its connections, combined with its unique community-led approach and science-based planting methods, ensures the most critical local needs are met and that the tree-planting capacity of its partners is enhanced.
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